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Blu-Ray : One to Avoid
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Release Date: May 31st, 2011 Movie Release Year: 2010

Passion Play

Overview -

A terrific cast will hold you spellbound in this one of a kind seductive thriller from the screenwriter of The Recruit. The last thing washed-up jazz musician Nate Pool (Academy Award-nominee Mickey Rourke, The Wrestler) wanted to do was betray sinister gangster Happy Shannon (Academy-Award-nominee Bill Murray, Lost In Translation). But it may be the last thing he does unless he can deliver Lily (Megan Fox, Transformers), a beautiful and mysterious carnival sideshow attraction. The stakes can't get any higher for the two lovers as they try to elude the merciless killer who will stop at nothing to keep Lily for himself. Kelly Lynch (Drugstore Cowboy) and Rhys Ifans (Notting Hill) costar in this gritty and unpredictable tale of redemption in the hard-boiled tradition of classic film noir.

One to Avoid
Rating Breakdown
Tech Specs & Release Details
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Release Date:
May 31st, 2011

Storyline: Our Reviewer's Take


One has to wonder why Bill Murray has been so critical of the 'Ghostbusters 3' script over the last year or so yet apparently had no qualms with Mitch Glazer's crapfest 'Passion Play'. I've got to believe that even the earliest draft of 'Ghostbusters 3' is head and shoulders above this monstrosity. A film so dreadful in fact, Mickey Rourke – the movie's star – denounced the film publicly, saying that it was, "Terrible. Another terrible movie. But, you know, in your career and all the movies you make, you’re going to make dozens of terrible ones." When the movie's lead is calling it "terrible," (And Rourke knows terrible) then you know you're in for a pretty excruciating experience.

Imagine for a second that famed director David Lynch had an evil twin. The only ambition this evil twin ever had was to create crappy Lynchian lookalikes to annoy his much more successful brother. His movies would have that weird, ominous feel to them, but they'd be filled with so much nonsensical mumbo jumbo that the real Lynch would run screaming from the room clawing at his eyes. Now replace this evil twin with the name Mitch Glazer, and you've got the directorial essence of 'Passion Play'.

Nate (Mickey Rourke) is a trumpet player who cavorts with the wrong women. He's just slept with the wife of a notorious gangster named Happy (Bill Murray) and now he's in deep. One of Happy's henchmen takes Nate out into the desert to teach him a lesson about the consequences of sleeping with a mobster's wife, but Nate is miraculously saved by a band of gun-toting ninjas (I'm not kidding), who then march off into the distance.

Nate wanders around the desert until he happens upon a carnival in the middle of nowhere. Hoping to use their phone, Nate enters the tent of oddities and soon finds himself staring at the bearded lady and a guy in a kilt swallowing swords. You know, your standard carney stuff. In a back room he finds a glass box holding Lily (Megan Fox). There's nothing crazy looking about her, until she unfurls the CGI wings that are hiding behind her back. Yup, it's a winged Megan Fox. Why? Who knows. The movie doesn't even know.

I don't even want to describe the rest of the movie. It's so absurd and ridiculous that I wonder if Glazer ever really knew where his movie was going, or if he was trying pretentiously to create a movie that people won't understand but they'd be too afraid to say they didn't understand it. A movie gray area where people will nod their heads and make up inane meanings to go along with a movie that indeed has no meaning to speak of.

The best part of the movie is the look Rourke has at the beginning of every scene. Like he'd just been shoved out on set right after taking a nap. He looks lost and bewildered. I can't say the same about Murray who actually looks like he's enjoying being in this turd. Fox has been put into the role to look pretty and throw her head back in a sexually suggestive motion every time her ugly CG wings burst into the air. It's creepy watching two men well over 50 trying to bed a 25 year-old winged woman. There's nothing about this movie that feels right. It's all just so wrong. The one thing I know is that this movie would have been infinitely more enjoyable if Fox had played the bearded lady instead. Maybe Mickey could have tried out the wings.

The Blu-ray: Vital Disc Stats

I'Passion Play' has been housed, by Image Entertainment, on a BD-25 Blu-ray Disc. The case indicates that this release is coded for region A use only. The disc comes packaged in a green-friendly Blu-ray keepcase.

Video Review


Even though 'Passion Play' can barely be called a film in its present state, at least it looks like a film with its solid digital transfer of the 35mm source.

Fine detail looks great here. The weathered and craggy faces of Murray and Rourke are provided with some stunning depth. Fox's smooth looks contrasts nicely with the aged looks of her co-stars. Blacks need a bit of help though as they tend to look more gray than black. Some noise occurs during the darker scenes, and the entire presentation seems a tad bit soft. Sharpness and clarity never reach that optimum, demo-worthy level.

Besides the occasional noise, I didn't notice any other terrible video anomalies like blocking or banding. Fox's CG wings look completely phony throughout the entire movie. In HD they look downright pedestrian, but that's par for the course with this movie anyway.

Audio Review


I wasn't in the least bit blown away by 'Passion Play's DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 presentation. It's as generic as audio presentations come, especially for the drama genre.

'Passion Play' is a melancholy, talkative affair, with hushed dialogue throughout. To its credit the dialogue is more or less intelligible for the entire movie. There are a few mumbled Rourke lines that are extremely hard to hear, but that could be attributed to the fact that Rourke usually talks like that and the assumption that he absolutely hates being a part of this movie. The trumpet dub, for whenever Rourke plays his instrument, sounds hilariously false and forced.

Ambient sound and LFE are both sparse and never really all that engaging when they're given a chance to shine. This is a passable audio presentation, but there's nothing here that will have you screaming for joy.

Special Features


Thank goodness I didn't have to suffer through a commentary for this movie, although I'm morbidly curious to hear Glazer defend this movie. What we really need is a commentary track from Rourke totally trashing the movie. Now that would make a purchase worthwhile.

  • Trailer (SD, 2 min.) — The only feature on this disc is 'Passion Play's theatrical trailer.

Final Thoughts

'Passion Play' is laughably bad. It's a movie that thinks, for some insane reason, that it's much smarter than it is. Glazer tries his best Lynch impression, but it comes off as amateurish and, at times, downright stupid. There's no reason for this movie to exist. There's no reason actors like Rourke and Murray should be wasting their time on it (Why Bill? Why!?). Even with its solid video presentation and average audio mix, 'Passion Play' should be on everyone's "avoid it at any cost" list. What a stinker.